For Immediate Release
DHS Press Office
Improving morale within the Department of Homeland Security has been one of my top priorities as Secretary. I have said many times that, this year, morale will improve. Our aggressive campaign to improve morale across this 22-component, 232,000-person workforce has produced results.
Today the Office of Personnel Management released the 2016 results for the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). These results reflect that employee engagement at DHS, after six straight years of decline, went up three whole percentage points this year – from 53% in 2015 to 56% this year. This is no anomaly. It is regarded by OPM as statistically significant, and compares favorably to the 1% increase across the entire U.S. government. This increased morale at DHS was the result of some very hard work, and is the largest increase of any Cabinet Department our size.
Hopefully, these improved results are the beginning of a new, upward trend. I hope the next Secretary of Homeland Security continues to make employee morale a top priority.
Of particular note:
- DHS leaders told our employees that their views mattered to us, and that we wanted to hear from them this year. In response, DHS’s participation in FEVS went up from 47.1% last year (compared to 49.7% government-wide) to 50.1% this year (compared to 45.8% government-wide).
- Survey results for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (a 19,000-person agency) went up 7% --from 48% last year to 55% this year. Much of this increase came from within ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). Over the last two years, ERO has responded effectively to my new immigration enforcement priorities that have focused more sharply on public safety and border security. At the same time, we have reformed the pay scale for ERO officers, to reflect the good work they do for public safety.
- Survey results increased in the other immigration components – from 49% in 2015 to 53% this year at Customs and Border Protection (a 59,000-person workforce) and 68% in 2015 to 71% this year at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (a 15,000-person workforce).
- The Secret Service ended a multi-year slide in employee satisfaction. In 2013, it was 62%; in 2014 it was 56%; in 2015 it was 49%. This year employee satisfaction at the Secret Service came in at 50%. Within DHS, the Secret Service saw the biggest survey participation increase, from 41.8% last year to 59.0% this year.
- Employee satisfaction at DHS headquarters continued to increase, from 57.5% in 2014, 62.0% in 2015 to 65.5% in 2016. At DHS headquarters, survey participation also increased, from 60.1% last year to 67.6% this year.
Our campaign to improve morale across DHS included the following:
A strong and active Employee Engagement Steering Committee
Chaired by our Under Secretary for Management, this Committee meets monthly and oversaw the creation of DHS-wide employee satisfaction programs and customized programs and initiatives for each DHS component.
This year alone, the Deputy Secretary and I participated in 45 sessions with our employees in 22 cities across the country, to discuss our priorities and hear employees’ concerns. In March I put on a TSA uniform and worked alongside TSA personnel at BWI airport. From all these engagements, we heard employees’ top three concerns were pay, work/life balance and hiring. We pushed out toolkits to managers and supervisors for conducting their own town hall meetings.
The Secretary’s Awards Program
We brought back and expanded the annual Secretary’s Awards Program to acknowledge outstanding individual and team efforts across DHS. Our components also re-established or expanded their own awards programs.
The Secretary’s Valor Awards
Initiated in 204, this annual program highlights the continuous acts of bravery on- and off-duty by DHS personnel.
This has enabled all employees across our 22-component, 232,000-person workforce to feel connected to one another’s work and the Department as a whole. We created a new Department-wide employee orientation, with a “Welcome to DHS” video message. We have instituted a Department-wide e-newsletter and targeted “Leader Alert” distribution lists. Several DHS components have followed TSA’s example of an “IdeaFactory” for employees to generate ideas and feedback.
Increased transparency and fairness in hiring and promotion
We took steps to ensure that employees receive basic information about hiring and promotion opportunities, and are informed of the eligibility criteria and procedures that will be followed in the selection process, including applicable timelines.
A DHS-wide mission statement
Earlier this year I solicited the DHS workforce for their views about a DHS-wide mission statement. We received over 3000 responses. The most common words in the responses were “honor,” “integrity,” “safeguard” and “values.” In May we rolled out our new mission statement: “With honor and integrity we will safeguard the American people, our homeland and our values.” This statement is now posted prominently across DHS.
I am incredibly proud and pleased at this year’s FEVS results, but there is something more important to know: year after year our employees continually tell us in surveys that they understand the importance of their homeland security mission, and are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. This week, for example, thousands of our personnel are working overtime for the security of the UN General Assembly in New York City. This week and every week, our people protect the American people and their homeland, in the air, on land, at sea, and in cyberspace.
I hope the public appreciates this about their Department of Homeland Security and its devoted public servants.